By Elizabeth Walton, Sheffield Hallam Law Student
The background to small claims in the UK
Small claims are issued for cases which do not involve large and complicated issues and are not for large sums of money, no more than £10,000. The small claims process can be used for issues relating to disputes with landlords, evictions, accidents in the workplace etc.
The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) illustrate and give direction to the small claims procedure. Part 27 of the CPR directs the small claims process.
The process within UK courts
Depending on the type of claim, it may be necessary to follow a certain Pre-Action Protocol, which is generally the exchange of letters between the claimant and the defendant. If the protocols are followed, and it hasn’t settled any of the issues, then it is most likely the claimant will proceed to court.
After the Pre-Action Protocol has been followed, and if it does not settle the dispute, it is then necessary to issue and serve proceedings. To issue proceedings, it is necessary to complete the relevant claim form and send it to court, this is known as filing the documents. Once it is forwarded to the defendant, this is known as serving the documents.
The next section of the court proceedings can take as long as between 12-18 months. During the directions, the court decides the timescales for the case, deciding which parties does what, by specific dates. There are also consequences for any lateness, by either party. Prior to the trial, it may be necessary in some cases to gather evidence from witnesses and also experts. Key people will be interviewed with statements drafted. These will need to be exchanged between the parties. Likewise, with the experts, reports need to be drafted and they need to be exchanged between the parties – an expert is not always necessary to be involved.
The final part of the small claims process is the trial, where the judge will express his judgment, and depending upon the verdict, it may be necessary for the claimant to try enforcing the judgement.
If you are considering making a claim and need help or assistance, please contact SHU Law on 0114 2256666 or email email@example.com.